A Walsall mother of three, who suffered serious medical complications following the birth of her first child, has finally received compensation for her injuries after a legal battle, which has lasted more than 13 years.
Deborah Foulkes aged 38, from Pelsall, had originally planned to sue her local hospital trust after a failed gynaecological operation, required after the birth of her daughter, left her incontinent.
She originally instructed Walsall law firm, Loxton & Wassall to pursue her personal injury claim back in February 1993 but solicitors there bungled the case. They not only issued Mrs Foulkes case against the wrong defendants but also failed to issue court proceedings within the three-year time limit.
Mrs Foulkes was unaware at the time that Loxton & Wassall had been negligent, but had become so concerned about the time taken to move the case forward, that she transferred her instructions to national law firm, Irwin Mitchell in October 2000. It was only after her new solicitor obtained her case file from the previous law firm that the serious legal errors were unearthed.
Loxton & Wassall, who have since ceased trading, were successfully sued for professional negligence and Mrs Foulkes has now received £285,000 compensation.
Deborah Foulkes commented: I am so angry about what has happened. The original failures by the hospital were hard to come to terms with but the mess Loxton & Wassall made of the case quite literally added insult to injury.
Initially the firm seemed on the ball and being a local firm I thought they would be best placed to act on my behalf. The solicitor dealing with the case kept reassuring me that matters were in hand and I trusted that things were going ok. But, after seven years of waiting I felt enough was enough and decided to move my case to another law firm, which specialised in personal injury claims. When they told me they had discovered that Loxton & Wassall had ruined my claim I was devastated.
Helen Parkin, a solicitor with Irwin Mitchell, who handled Mrs Foulkes case, explained: Deborah had a strong case against the hospital trust, which, in all probability, would have been successfully settled some years ago, but for the fact that Loxton & Wassall failed to conduct the case properly.
Mrs Foulkes had no idea that Loxton & Wassall had acted improperly until we managed to obtain her file in May 2001 and discovered the full extent of their failings.
Mrs Foulkes relied upon their deliberate concealment in the professional negligence action which was settled in (date) at (court). (was the payment through insurers because L&W had by this time ceased trading, in which case we need to say!)
Sadly, we deal with a fair number of professional negligence claims each year, where for one reason or another a legal firm has failed in its professional duties. However, this case has been particularly complex because of the relatively long time Loxton & Wassall had succeeded in deceiving Mrs Foulkes and the fact that the firm ceased trading soon after matters came to light.
Mrs Foulkes added: I am so relieved that this legal battle is finally over and hopefully I can move on with my life. I would warn anyone in a similar situation to ensure they choose a reputable firm who know what they are doing.